09/12/2023, 09.47
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Kim Jong-un's train in Russia: talks with Putin on arms (and food)

Today's headlines: at least 10 dead in clashes between rival factions in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon; Runoff between Solih and Muizzu scheduled for Sept. 30 to decide next president of the Maldives; Sexist behavior toward women in the workplace persists in South Korea; Kuala Lumpur wants to halt rare earth exports; Delhi ready to reintroduce firecracker ban for Diwali to try to curb air pollution in the capital.

Kim Jong-un entered Russian territory aboard the armored (and luxury) train that left Pyongyang for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. At the center of the talks is the supply of weapons to Moscow to support the war in Ukraine. In exchange, the Kremlin should provide food and energy (as well as sophisticated weapons technologies) to counter the food crisis in North Korea.

At least 10 people have died and hundreds of families have fled following five days of fighting between rival factions in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh, Lebanon. Members of President Abu Mazen's Fatah movement and Islamist groups clashed. Last July, 13 victims had already been counted. According to UN data, the center hosts almost 55 thousand refugees.

The Maldives will go to a run-off on September 30 to decide the winner of the presidential elections, after none of the candidates obtained more than 50% of the votes in the first round. The outgoing president Ibrahim Solih (39%), linked to India, will face the pro-Chinese challenger Mohamed Muizzu who has the lead in the first round (46% of the preferences) in a match that promises to be open.

South Korean women are still victims of sexist behavior in the workplace, experiencing inappropriate comments three to four times more frequently than men. This is what emerges from the survey conducted by Embrain Public for Gapjil 119 and Beautiful Foundation in early August on 1000 adults, of which 435 women. The greatest mistreatment among low-wage workers.

Kuala Lumpur wants to ban exports of critical raw materials and rare earths, to avoid exploitation and loss of resources. Malaysia has around 30 thousand tonnes of rare earths, much lower than China with 44 million tonnes. Beijing remains the leading nation in sourcing an essential material for semiconductor chips, electric vehicles and military equipment.

New Delhi has reintroduced a ban on the use of firecrackers and fireworks for the Diwali festival, scheduled for mid-November, to limit air pollution also in anticipation of the winter season, when air quality reaches worrying levels . The smoke from hundreds of fireworks adds to the pollution produced by stubble burned in nearby regions.

The tenth "China - Central Asia" forum organized by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is underway in Xiamen, eastern China. An event dedicated to deepening "friendly and mutually beneficial relations" between the parties, together with the tenth anniversary of the "Belt & Road Initiative" for connecting Asia with Europe and Africa by land and sea.

In Turkmenistan, state employees are forced to pick cotton on plantations, including education and health workers, as well as students. The campaign has started earlier than usual and the workers are taken to the fields by buses. Ashgabat is the subject of strong criticism from activists and NGOs as the latest Central Asian country to use forced labor in the agricultural sector.

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